Don’t Call it a Comeback

I’m no feminist we-can-have-it-all icon. Yet. But today marks the 12-week birthday of my baby no. four and the completion of my first workweek in, well, 11 weeks.

Monday marked the third time in this life I’ve packed up the breast pump and pad-folio and gone back to work. I don’t count the time I quit a Fortune 500 company to attend graduate school six weeks after baby no. two was born. The first semester of grad school didn’t quite feel like work. All the other semesters did. Anyway …

…Third time is not the charm, I don’t think. The emotions ran higher in the back-to-work countdown. My baby is younger than all his sibs were when they started full-time childcare. They were nine months, five months and more than a year. New Baby is 12 weeks. Today! Relations are strained between me and the breast pump. Getting up at 5 a.m. to express milk just sucks, and neither me nor black box are as young as we used to be. Wearing sweatpants for 77 consecutive days was awesome and all my pants with zippers got smaller. Jeez, why do things have to change?

But you’re not considering purchasing a subscription to the super-deluxe, ad-free version of my mom-blahg just to hear me warble the working-mom blues. In recognition of this, I will now share with you the modest successes of my first week back in the basement (yes, I do work in a basement).

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Admitting defeat at 11 p.m. Damn you, daycare!

  1. I did not lose, forget or break any of my children.
  2. This includes the time (9:07 a.m. Friday) gale-force winds and a fierce pothole nearly capsized my Britax stroller, baby included.
  3. I ate out only 1.5 times. Friday’s 13-year anniversary dinner was the one time. Culver’s Thursday was the .5 time because I did not order a beverage and I did not have dessert so this counts as a half-meal.
  4. I worked out once and blogged twice.
  5. Despite this being the week of National Margarita Day I drank only once.
  6. I attended the school governance council meeting where I lobbied very politely for an additional gym period for the kiddoes next year if any surplus art-music-physed funds are available.
  7. I took a media interview on topics like how poorly we fund our public schools in urban America.
  8. I caught some typos.
  9. I cried only in front of my husband.
  10. I told my middle two kids in my best firm-but-loving mommy voice: “I don’t care about your Minecraft worlds. Please discuss this amongst yourselves.” Then I called it “Mindcrap” and cackled at my brilliance.

Now I feel strongly that Top Ten lists should stop at no. ten. Except for this this time.

11. After no. ten (who could forget that one: Mindcrap!) I put away my laptop, shelved my dreams of publishing a new post and admitted the sniffle-cough-chortle-fart thing that baby was doing is a first-week-at-daycare souvenir. We’re off to the doctor in a couple hours. Hopefully his illness/virus will be as moderate as my successes this week. Don’t worry momma-friends – he’s up-to-date on all vaccinations.

To those of you who read this, I hope it makes you smile, or laugh, or come to the wind-whipped Midwest for a visit. Really we are doing okay as I resume career alongside an additional child. Here’s someone I thought about all this week, myself, and it reminded me that every day I get up at 5 a.m. with breast pump and baby is a mothereffing do-not-return gift that I am blessed to receive. Please keep this family in your thoughts and send them a prayer, your most positive energy, a donation. Whatever you can do please just do that for Parker, Ellie, their new dad and their late momma.

Chutney Challenged, Redux

“Thud, click. Groan. Slow zipping sound. Whispery crackling sounds. Squeal of wet sneakers leaving salt, snow sludge, mud on the hardwood floor. It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

That’s the sound of painful, slow progress – the sloughing off of bad habits to replace them with the good. Not new habits, mind you, just some of the boring, decent ones that I used to have: exercise, fitting into my clothes, writing stuff instead of just consuming whatever words are sitting right in front of me (Cam Jensen and Boxcar Kids, you’re plucky and all but you’re just not satisfying me.), not eating all forgotten, fossilized Halloween/Valentine candy and/or December holiday delicacies.

Change hurts. Even when grooves are well worn, cozy, as easy to slip into as a fleece-lined pair of Crocs (positive product placement!), it hurts when you slip out of them. It hurts more trying to slide back into them. Yet what choice do I have? For me and mine this will be a week of firsts: First day of daycare, first day back at work, first solo trip with baby, first time that baby found his hands, fourth time I have tried to figure out how to operate my damn 2012-edition Polar Fitness Monitor (eff you product placement!), first-of-the-month the house goes back up for sale. I’m not sure my current bad habits are going to get me through this time of transition.

 So that “thud” you heard before is my laptop hitting the desk. “Groan” is me accepting my fate begrudgingly. “Slow zipping sound” is one of the two pair of pants right now that fit me – kind of. “Whispery crackling sounds” is the discreet destruction of pretty much any candy-like object I’ve found in my house these last few weeks. “Wet sneakers” is what we’re not hearing on the hardwood floors anymore because this house is getting spit-shined and desalted and redecorated and back on the market. That last quote is some lady I used to hang out with. We need to reconnect.

Aforementioned baby, for the record, is not named Morrissey. He really did just discover the miracle of his two tiny baby-clam hands last night. Put them in his mouth and left them there for an hour. I can’t believe I ever forgot what it’s like to watch a baby discover her baby self, and I’ve seen it happen three times before. Maybe I’ll remember these things better now. Sloughing is good. So are the dark-chocolate mint M&Ms now on sale at Target.

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